History is made by those who show up, the old cliche goes. For modern political life, the message is clear: Every vote matters, so long as you actually take the time to cast it. Indeed, modern U.S. government is full of examples of a few votes — or a single vote — making all the difference:

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Joe Amon/The Denver Post/Getty Images

Anthony Drees vividly recalls the 1991 Iraqi missile attack on U.S. military barracks in Saudi Arabia that claimed the lives of more than two dozen fellow service members — an event that would also put his on a new course.

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U.S. Air Force/Sgt. Lilliana Moreno

A siren or alarm can trigger Sandra Ewing’s reflexes, making her believe she is back in Afghanistan.

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US Marines

Editor’s note: May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the West Point history department last week asked veterans on Twitter for their advice on how to “positively add to the discussion about PTSD.” One vet who responded with a personal story was The Warax, the anonymous, Seuss-inspired former Marine whose cantankerous takes on post-military life and politics have earned him a big social media following. “The first time I thought about killing myself the idea was easy to dismiss,” The Warax’s story began. What followed was a gripping but very recognizable lesson on how depression and suicidal tendencies can set in as a veteran’s career sunsets through no fault of his own. We asked the Warax to share his story here in an essay, and he agreed.

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Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

According to Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, demand for services by veterans peaks about four decades after a conflict ends. The year 1978 was relatively quiet for active American military personnel, besides a brief Air Force involvement in South Zaire. Yet today, in 2018, the demand for veteran services is as high as many observers can remember it ever being.

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